His is a Japanese BL movie about two ex-boyfriends who reunite years later in a small rural town. One of them is a divorced father, who's currently in an intense custody battle over his daughter. Reluctantly, his former lover offers them a place to stay at his house, in a peculiar living arrangement that's bound to have the neighbours gossiping.
Although His is technically the movie sequel of His: I Didn't Think I Would Fall in Love, the standalone film can be watched with no prior knowledge of the story. This slow and atmospheric movie depicts the heartbreak of two repressed gay men. Even during the happier moments, you can't shake away the sense of melancholy that is prevalent throughout His.
His Movie Summary
Around 2 hours
Sad and bittersweet
Yes, His features a gay couple.
Shun lives by himself in a rural town, where he runs a small farm. Years ago, his ex-boyfriend broke up with him, ending their relationship very suddenly. Now, Nagisa arrives at his house one day, bringing along his six-year-old daughter Sora. Divorced and unemployed, Nagisa needs a temporary place to live, so Shun reluctantly lets the father-and-daughter duo stay with him.
Nagisa is in the middle of getting a divorce. Previously, he was a stay-at-home dad, while his wife Rena worked a freelance interpreter job to provide for their family. Since her job has unstable hours and often requires travelling, Nagisa was the primary caregiver who spent all his time raising Sora. As a result, the two of them developed a very close bond. Now that their marriage is ending, Rena wants full custody of their child, a decision that Nagisa is contesting against legally.
As Nagisa prepares for his custody case, Shun feels mixed emotions about the unconventional living arrangement with his ex-boyfriend. He is still hurt by how their relationship ended, and living together again has stirred up old feelings that Shun would rather forget. Plus, he has to conceal their connection from the rest of the town, since they're curious about the arrival of this mysterious new man.
Although Nagisa and Sora have settled into their new rural life quite nicely, Shun remains uncertain about their future together. He knows that any happiness they experience is only short-lived, especially when Nagisa's ex-wife arrives to take Sora away from them.
His Movie Trailer
His Movie Cast
Hio Miyazawa (宮沢氷魚)
Shun is a farmer who lives by himself in a small rural town. He moved here a year ago, leaving his city life behind. Shun is a quiet and introverted young man, who keeps his thoughts to himself. When he isn't working on his farm, Shun enjoys spending his time in the wilderness, especially with a book.
Kisetsu Fujiwara (藤原季節)
Nagisa is a single father with a six-year-old daughter. Up until his divorce, he used to be a stay-at-home father. During his youth, he tried to start a professional surfing career in Australia, where he met and married his ex-wife. Now, he arrives at Shun's house, hoping for a temporary place to stay while he sorts out the divorce process.
Sakura Sotomura (外村紗玖良)
Honoka Matsumoto (松本若菜)
Honoka Matsumoto (松本穂香)
Keiichi Suzuki (鈴木慶一)
Keiko Toda (戸田恵子)
Kumi Nakamura (中村久美)
His Movie Review
Movie Review Score: 7.9
His is a quiet, dignified movie that takes its time to move the plot along. Not much happens in the beginning, forcing you to pay more attention to the subtext in each scene. The slow pace is in sync with the quiet, mundane life that Shun leads in the rural town. You'll just have to be patient as the story unfolds, piecing together the narrative bit by bit.
Starting from the first scene, His breaks any illusion this is going to be a happy movie. You see Shun and Nagisa act like a happy couple for approximately a minute before everything falls apart. Their relationship is complicated. They aren't hostile to each other, but the two of them aren't exactly on the best of terms either. There's an underlying tension between them, which doesn't get addressed right away, but you can feel the uneasiness every time the characters interact. This tension slowly builds up for the first half of the movie, filled with plenty of melancholy gazes, hesitant pauses, and unspoken words.
The movie gets off to a slow start, which I don't mind that much, but it can be frustrating to watch at times. You just want the two characters to stop tiptoeing around their history and communicate with each other already. Shun is almost too quiet and repressed, hardly speaking up about how he really feels. Meanwhile, Nagisa continues to play dumb, deflecting important questions and acting like everything is fine between them. When are these two going to be open and honest?
The pace picks up in the second half of the movie. There are a few moving scenes involving Shun's sexuality, which are handled with care and sensitivity. The relationship between Shun and Nagisa also seems to be improving day by day. However, the movie shifts its focus onto Sora's custody battle near the end, which I have mixed feelings about. While the court scenes are engaging, this whole storyline isn't my cup of tea. If I had a choice, I wouldn't want to watch a husband and wife argue about child custody. Like, what is this heterosexual nonsense? Where is my BL content!?
Overall, I do think His is a worthwhile movie, dealing with topics like domestic gay couples and same-sex parenting that aren't widely discussed in Japan. A few narrative choices could've been done differently, such as adjusting the pace or the tone, which would make the storytelling more interesting for me. Nonetheless, His is a positive contribution to the genre of LGBT cinema, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to watch a movie with a raw, authentic depiction of gay issues.
The topic of gay parenting is pretty rare in the BL genre (or any genre, really) for various reasons. This storyline tends to be more serious and mature, which doesn't always appeal to the younger demographic of BL viewers. Plus, gay parenting is a taboo subject matter in many places around the world, especially in the conservative countries of East Asia. There's so little precedence of gay parents in real life that it's difficult to portray representation of them in fiction.
Maybe in the distant future, possibly not in my lifetime, our culture will change. But for now, it's a niche topic in the BL genre, so I applaud His for trying to tell this type of story. I like that the movie tackles bigger themes beyond the romantic relationship, touching upon universal problems faced by many LGBT couples.
I thought the storyline was handled sensitively. The divorce, the custody, and the gossiping felt pretty authentic, even if they weren't always comfortable to watch. If anything, Nagisa and Shun might face more hurtful prejudice in real life, so the movie version of events was relatively mild. I liked how happy Sora seemed under Nagisa and Shun's care, showing us how normal it is for two men to raise a child together.
Shun and Nagisa
The opening scene makes it difficult to root for Shun and Nagisa to be together. After Nagisa dumped his boyfriend so suddenly, it sets the tone for the rest of the movie and lowers your expectations of any romance. Nagisa has some friggin' nerve to show up at Shun's doorstep years later, with his six-year-old daughter no less. You dumped the guy, left him for another woman, popped out a kid, and now ya want him to take you back!? Get outta here, mofo. 😡
What made it worse is that the breakup had a major psychological impact on Shun. His character almost acts like he's traumatized, unable to open up or get close to anyone again. Years later, it's telling that he still hasn't moved on from his last relationship, holding onto his ex-boyfriend's photos and even his old sweater. Plus, you don't uproot your entire home and move away to the middle of bumfuck, nowhere unless you're really, really unhappy with your life.
You can't help but get the feeling that Shun would've been a different person, perhaps a much happier and more confident guy, had Nagisa stayed by his side all these years. Even with a heartfelt explanation and a groveling apology, it's hard to forgive Nagisa for what he did to Shun.
Shun must be so patient and understanding to give his ex-boyfriend a second chance. In Nagisa's defense, I do feel like he is genuinely remorseful for what he did. What he could've done is stay in an unhappy marriage, sneak behind his wife's back, and pretend to lead a double life. Instead, Nagisa got a divorce, brought his daughter to meet Shun, and wanted the three of them to spend time together. His actions, even if they came at a hefty price, showed that he prioritized Shun in his life again.
By the end of the movie, I grew more receptive to the idea of Shun and Nagisa as a couple. A part of me saw Nagisa hit rock bottom with his divorce, and I felt sorry for him. Another part of me saw how lonely Shun was, and just wanted someone to introduce a bit of happiness into his life again. In any case, I'm glad Shun and Nagisa got back together, and I hope they actually stay together for good this time.
The two leads were good, but it was the child actor playing Sora who stole the spotlight. I had to look up how old the kid was IRL just because I was astonished by her acting skills, haha. 😄
Not only is she as cute as a button, but she's so natural in front of the camera and delivers all her lines perfectly. She even had a crying scene and nailed it like a professional. This kid is gifted and they struck gold casting her in the movie.
We'll never know how the court will rule over Sora's custody case, but the subject isn't as black and right as it may seem. It's easy to villify the ex-wife because she's violent and negligent with her child during a stressful moment. On the flip side, we must acknowledge that Rena is a single working parent, who was massively betrayed by her husband, and even her own mother isn't supportive. While I do not condone her actions, she is in a very sympathetic situation and deserves our understanding.
On the other hand, Nagisa is also an underdog in this custody battle. No matter what they say, his sexuality would've influenced the final court ruling. Here are the facts:
- He is faced with a prejudiced judge, who thinks a gay couple isn't capable of raising a child in a "normal" environment.
- There are implications that the child would face more stress and prejudice being raised by a gay couple.
- It isn't legal for him to get married to his boyfriend, so he can never provide a stable family structure for his kid.
The family court isn't a friendly place for gay men like Nagisa. A lot of the odds are stacked against him just because he's in a same-sex relationship. If Rena didn't get drunk and screw up that one time, I don't think Nagisa would even have a case against his ex-wife. You would think that being a loving and competent parent would be all the credentials he needs to win custody over Sora, but that isn't how the legal system works. ⚖️
When Nagisa announced that he would give up the custody battle, I was kinda pissed off. Did we waste all this time and effort on the storyline just for him to quit in the end!? However, I do understand his justification after listening to his impassioned speech. He brought up a good point that Rena worked really hard to provide a financial stability for their family, and it shouldn't be used to attack her qualification as a mother.
And ultimately, it was Nagisa's conscience that dictated his decision, because he felt guilty for wronging his ex-wife. He married her, he had a child with her, and he promised to build a future with her. Unfortunately, he couldn't make their marriage work, and he couldn't uphold their future either, so the least he can do is let her keep their child. This was a very painful decision, but it shows a lot of maturity and integrity. All throughout the movie, Nagisa has been trying to make amends for his past wrongs, and giving up custody was like his ~final test~.
A month after the court case, we saw some of Rena's struggles as a single mother. She eventually caved in and worked out some sort of casual arrangement for Nagisa to spend time with his child again. The ending of the movie showed Rena speaking to Shun for the first time. She didn't say anything important, but it was momentous because she acknowledged her husband's lover and made an effort to include him. It was her subtle way of extending the olive branch, letting Shun know that she does welcome him into their family unit.
In a way, this is a sweet and sensible ending. Although Shun and Nagisa don't have full custody of Sora, at least they are still together (I hope?). Maybe Rena will be more open to setting up more playdates and visits in the future. This ending is slightly hopeful and open-ended, presenting a compromise to an imperfect situation.
Shun might be a close second, but Sora is actually my favourite character in the movie. She was pretty adorable in many scenes, which was definitely a plus. But the moment Sora won me over was when she sat down with Shun after the funeral. In a simple chat, Sora makes an innocuous remark that she likes seeing Shun together with her father, and she doesn't think there's anything weird about their relationship.
Her comment was so pure, coming straight from the heart without any judgment. She meant what she said, and this six-year-old girl carries more wisdom in her than a lot of other adults.
Skin & Nudity
There are a few shirtless scenes scattered throughout the movie. The opening scene has both leads shirtless in bed with a clear shot of their upper torsos. Later, Nagisa has a shirtless scene when he runs out of the bathroom in just a flimsy towel. Shun couldn't help himself but stare long and hard, before remembering that he's supposed to be angry at his ex-boyfriend lol. 👀
I know I just wrote a long spiel defending Rena, but her many instances of bad parenting simply cannot be overlooked. This includes SLAPPING her child, getting MAD DRUNK in broad daylight, and outright NEGLECTING her six-year-old child to the extent that she ran away from home. Remind me again why this unfit parent has custody of Sora instead of the one who actually loves her?
The divorce was a long and drawn-out process, inviting nasty and below-the-belt remarks from both parties. Many of the comments made by Rena's lawyer were implicitly and explicitly tainted with homophobia. The judge himself was prejudiced, unable to stay impartial about the nature of Nagisa's relationship. He made a few passing comments that would get him overruled if he was in MY court of law.
Shun's coming out
Shun's coming out was a powerful moment, although a funeral may not be the appropriate place to celebrate your sexuality FYI. His character has been so reserved up until this scene, and it's refreshing to hear him speak up about his feelings for the first time. You can tell he has been wrestling with these personal demons for a very long time, making his words extra brave and poignant.
I love everyone's reactions to his coming out speech as well. Everyone in this small town is more open-minded than you might assume of them. One of the women just continued eating her meal as he spoke, because his sexuality was so inconsequential that it doesn't change the way she sees him. It was heartwarming to see this community rally together and toast Shun after he came out. His character really needed this boost of self-confidence after being repressed and unhappy for so long.
Another memorable moment occurred after Shun got outed in front of the entire town. His friend Mr. Ogata took him on a hunting trip, where he offered some wise and comforting words. "Let them talk. Don't let it get to you. It's nobody's business who you fall in love with. Live how you want to live." I like this advice a lot. It's simple, unpretentious, and reassuring enough without being too sentimental.
Even though Shun didn't say anything (as usual…), he got teary-eyed and you can tell he was moved by his friend's kindness. Too bad Mr. Ogata died immediately in the next scene. 😥
Less courtroom drama
The custody case dominated the last half of the movie, taking up too much focus at the expense of other storylines. Considering the way it was resolved, I don't feel like we needed to spend almost 30 minutes on the courtroom drama. Condense that storyline and use that extra time to wrap up some loose ends instead.
For instance, I would've liked to see a scene between Shun and Misato, so that they can clear the air with each other after his coming out. I also wanted more of an aftermath with our two leads. How are Shun and Nagisa coping after they lost custody of Sora? It just feels like there are a few missed opportunities to flesh out the story better, which could be done if they dedicated less time to the courtroom drama.
His Series Prequel
His: I Didn't Think I Would Fall in Love 2019 series Drama review
His is a movie sequel of His: I Didn't Think I Would Fall in Love, a short five-episode BL series that was released a year earlier in 2019. The drama features Shun and Nagisa during their youth, played by entirely different actors. The series describes how they first met each other and started their relationship.
However, the series and the movie are drastically different from each other. Other than sharing the same names and maybe a few hobbies, the characters have almost no resemblance to each other. The stories aren't related either, so you can totally watch and understand the movie sequel without having any knowledge of its predecessor. You won't miss any important details, other than some very minor Easter eggs that will be noticeable for viewers who watched both stories.
His Movie Information
- IMDB: His IMDB
- Letterboxd: His Letterboxd
- MyDramaList: His MyDramaList
Hey I just found your blog and I really liked it! Nice review, his is one of my favourite movies. I'd like to recommend you 'Eternal summer' (2006). It's a Taiwanese movie, you may like it.
Thanks for the kind words! 😊 Yes, I've watched Eternal Summer a really long time ago, and I consider it a classic in gay Asian cinema. This is actually the movie that developed my lifelong crush on Joseph Chang, the lead actor in the film. I've been a HUGE fan of his ever since. ❤️
I'll most likely review Eternal Summer at some point in the future, but I do need to rewatch this again since it has been so long ago. It'll be interesting to see how I feel now that I'm a decade older, so I may view the movie with a ~new perspective~.
Thanks for the review. Personally I found the mediation/courtroom scenes interesting (if harrowing) because (IMO) that's how things are in Japan, it's very old-fashioned in some ways, and those kind of barriers are what gay people must come up against again and again. As for the ending, yes, it's an open ending, but I had the feeling that Shun and Nagisa were together for good this time around. I agree with your comments about how wonderful the actor playing Sora is – just brilliant. I loved the wonderful, introverted (and very Japanese) character Shun is — and how handsome the actor playing him!